After 90 minutes of furious fiddling, Geza Hosszu-Legocky has lost quite a lot of hair. It’s unsurprising: playing with such virtuosity and panache, delivering thrilling runs, or mournful Hungarian gypsy melodies with one of the most charismatic, distinctively wide vibratos I’ve heard: that’s bound to have a physical impact. He will, of course, need his violin bow restrung after this.
But this isn’t just a whizz bang of virtuosity. Though there are too many highlights to mention, there’s two revelations worth mentioning here. The first is that Hosszu-Legocky gives the Hub a masterclass in ensemble work. Though the leader, he’s never afraid to lose the limelight – even tonight when, due to illness, he is a DeVil down. A re-jig of the repertoire gives special prominence to his nephew, Renauld Robert T. Crols, who doubles on violin and piano, and more than seizes his moment to shine. In one lovely moment, Crols solos, while his uncle layers on chromatic ornamentations and birdlike chirps, always in service of his nephew’s improvisational ideas. In another, he takes the musical ideas of cymbalom whizz Mykhaylo Zakhariya, transforms them and passes them back for Zakhariya to mix into a stunning set of variations. Vojtech Botos and Ferenc Ürmös are an indispensable rhythm section.
The second is what a wonderful musical journey this. The group give us the building blocks of traditional Hungarian Gypsy music and the development, through immigration, of mixed musical cultures that are so much greater than the sum of their parts. “Where do we go from here?” asks Geza at one point, thoroughly on top of his brief. The answer is almost certainly along tonight’s lines.
Geza & the 5 Devils played at The Hub as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, 8 Aug